Tunisia: New Draft Constitution Diminishes Women To Inferior Status, Imposes Prison For ‘Blasphemy’ Against Islam
By Alice Fordham, The National – “TUNIS // Tunisian politicians have provoked outrage by debating draft laws that would impose prison sentences for vaguely defined acts of blasphemy and approving wording in the country’s new constitution that says women are ‘complementary’ to men.
The clash between the Islamist-dominated interim government and those who fear that rights and freedoms are being eroded is the latest struggle in the battle to redefine Tunisia’s political and cultural landscape after the 23-year rule of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was deposed last year.
‘Bad day at the Commission of Rights and Freedoms,’ read a note posted last week on the Facebook page of Selma Mabrouk, a member of the centrist Ettakatol party and the parliamentary committee tasked with drafting a new constitution. The ruling, she said, ‘seems to break completely with the idea of equality of the sexes’.
The panel approved an article to the new constitution under the principle that a woman is a ‘complement with the man in the family and an associate to the man in the development of the country’, according to Ms Mabrouk’s August 1 Facebook post.
The wording was passed by a 12-8 vote, with 9 of those in favour coming from Ennahda, the moderate Islamist political party. Its passage does not mean that the formulation has become law. The article must must be approved by another parliamentary committee and the entire new constitution put to a public referendum.
Though not the final word, the ruling drew widespread criticism.
Writing on the Nawaat website, which describes itself as an independent, collective blog, Wafa Ben Hassine, a Tunisian-American activist, said: ‘By defining women as ‘complementary’, we rob from the potential of Tunisian women – both within society and within themselves.’
Ennahda prompted further concerns last week when it introduced a draft law that would criminalise offenses against ‘sacred values’.” Read more.
Flashback: Tunisia: Radical Islamists Hold Anti-Semitic March In Central Tunisia, ‘Jews, Jews, The Army Of Mohammed Is Back’ – “Thousands of Salafist Muslims marched on Kairouan in Central Tunisia, as part of the extremist Islamic movement’s annual assembly. The exclusively male attendees, many of whom were dressed in Afghan military uniform or waving Salafist black flags, marched through the city and raised a banner over the minaret of its mosque, the oldest in Africa… Organisers of the Salafist assembly had instructed marchers to remain ‘calm’ and not to talk to reporters. Many participants however defied their request not to chant slogans, reciting ‘We are all the children of Osama (bin Laden)’ and ‘Jews, Jews, the army of Mohammed is back’.” Read more.